Cars might get faster, safer, and more fuel efficient all the time, but there is some compelling evidence that not all of the changes in automotive design have necessarily been progress. Cars, and especially luxury cars, built before the Second World War would often be built by the manufacturer as just a chassis, with custom coachwork being added later by a third party. These are some of the most beautiful cars ever made, but the practice has almost completely died out since then, with just a few examples surviving. You might have heard of Ugur Sahin Design (USD) from their Soleil ANADI Corvette-based prototype, a pleasantly surprising example of how the art of coach building isn’t entirely dead.
USD has now focused their efforts on the Rolls-Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe II, a modern reinterpretation of a custom Rolls-Royce, known as the Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe, which was built in Belgium in 1935. The car survived the war and after undergoing extensive restoration is now in the possession of the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles, California. It is known that the car was built by Henri Jonckheere and his son Joseph Jonckheere, unfortunately the Jonckheere Works factory was destroyed in WWII, along with all of their records. Sadly, details such as who commissioned and designed the car have been lost to history.
The USD reinterpretation treads a difficult line. As Ugur Sahin explain in the press release “It is challenging to re-interpret something from that past which has a very imposing and impressive character like the original car, into a modern shape without losing its core essence. Many things like the proportions and lines, the impression some shapes give, are very essential to re-capture in the new design. While keeping the past DNA, injecting modern design elements which are in coherence with the past, is always a challenging task for every designer. It was important to avoid creating a design which is too modern by changing the original proportions too much, while still adding and changing elements in a certain way to avoid creating an outdated impression.”
Elements like the unique round doors and the huge grille were musts, although USD interestingly chose to de-emphasize the large fin on the back of the original car. USD say that they are in talks with some buyers about the feasibility of the custom coachwork, so there may actually be a few of these out on the road soon. It has to be said that the design is gorgeous, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that USD will actually move forward with the project.